Wembley Open

Five miles from Marble Arch the Wembley Silver Tiller took place 27th April. In strong winds gusting 25 knots, the south westerly breeze provided a day of "happenings".
The expected weather provided a magnet for adventurous Merlin people. A celebrity lady helm (being married this weekend) may have diverted some of the normal visitors but the 22 turnout had a ball. 11 home and 11 visiting vessels enjoyed 3 testing races, one morning and 2 afternoon back/back, the course sailed being a large figure eight, short reaches and long beats and spinnaker legs.

The latest number boats sporting carbon rigs, proved more mangeable than the aluminium set-up. It was a fine day for viewing quality helmanship and stability in exacting conditions. The 1st race got away cleanly but the spinnaker gybing caused some capsizes and the 3 rescue craft were fully occupied, though Tom Stewart taking prime spot, made light of it all. The apres-lunch races saw less ferocious gusts and Pat Blake won the 1st of these in 'Cool Cookie'.

Wembley boats always threatened and Colin Brockbank gained a 3rd and 2nd; Duncan Salmon, in his distinctive livery, a 3rd and 4th. The final match was quieter still with fewer entries, the weather having exacted it's toll on boats and bodies, but now "in the groove" Pat blake won the penultimate race and hence the laurel wreath.

Other notables...John Cooper in "Snorter", crewed by Wembley's Liam Dempsey was always in the leadership battle. A very tired but fulfilled gaggle of mariners made their way home, but my abiding memory is a car, piggy-back, on the AA lorry and trailing a cream Merlin back to the east coast!

John Donoghue


See also - full results